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7 Train Riders Say Their Hell Is Year-Round, Not Just A Summer Thing

A coalition of frustrated 7 train riders say they're experiencing their own "summer of hell" that is only partially due to the emergency repair work at Penn Station that launched this week.

"We've been having problems on the 7 for years now," said Brandon Mosley, a Sunnyside resident and member of the rider advocacy group Access Queens. "It's nothing new, and there's a lot of favoritism that's occurring. Muffins were being handed out to LIRR riders for their inconvenience, and no disrespect for them, but what about [7 train] riders who are hit left and right with the residential development and the L train shutdown?"

Said muffins were a deal sweetener for LIRR riders who chose to take shuttle buses into Manhattan this week. That bus service was so underutilized that it has already been scaled back.

Since Monday, three LIRR trains have terminated at Hunterspoint Avenue each morning, and originated from that station in the evening. Riders have the choice of transferring to the 7 train or shuttling to the East River Ferry dock at Hunters Point South.

The 7 line will be absorbing LIRR commuter runoff at least until September, bringing additional crowding issues to a frustrating cocktail of track work and delays. Platform crowding is already a problem, thanks to a real estate boom along the line. In 2014, according to the MTA, weekday ridership at the Vernon-Jackson Avenue 7 grew by 12 percent, or 1,500 customers.

The MTA has reportedly added one extra 7 train to accommodate the LIRR riders, something that regular 7 train riders say should have been done long ago.

The MTA is in the process of installing Communications-Based Train Control (necessary for countdown clocks) on the 7. Once complete, trains will be able to run more frequently, at closer intervals. The authority didn't immediately confirm the deadline for that work to be complete, though it was initially planned to wrap up some time this year.

According to Mosley, the MTA told his group that additional trains could not be added to the 7 line until CBCT work was complete. "These changes are being made because of the LIRR, not because the 7 has problems," he charged.

The MTA did not immediately comment on the additional service this summer. Meanwhile, after mechanical problems near Grand Central prompted a Manhattan-bound 7 train to reverse course back into Queens on Wednesday, Access Queens demanded a "contingency plan" for service disruptions and additional trains during rush hour.

Governor Cuomo, who has been criticized for his underinvestment in basic subway maintenance, recently declared a state of emergency for the MTA. The authority has also pledged to speed up the trains in the short-term.

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